Monthly Archives: October 2016

If status of truck safety rulemaking is reflection of gov’t FOR The People, The People need to take action.

This morning, I listened to the NTSB Board discuss a deadly 2015 truck crash. And then tonight, as I was going through a box of loose papers to file, I ran across NTSB Safety Recommendations from April 3, 2014. At that time NTSB was asking NHTSA for improvement in truck underride protection — for which we are still waiting.

Was it not the founders’ intent for the government of this country to act in the interest of The People? I think that it is high time that The People speak up and say that enough is enough! Whatever cost/benefit analysis process is being used has put the victims of vehicle violence totally at the mercy of the corporate world. They don’t appear to stand a chance.

Gertie reaching for Mary ...Susanna's film

Being convinced that we have already waited far too long for rulemaking that would protect The People from Death by Underride, I recently worked with a group of knowledgeable individuals to prepare a Comprehensive Underride Consensus Petition, which we submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on September 23, on behalf of The People:

Comprehensive Underride Consensus Petition Letter to NHTSA, September 23, 2016

Today, I received a reply from NHTSA Rulemaking in response to that Petition:

This is to acknowledge receipt of your September 23, 2016 request to initiate rulemaking for comprehensive underride protection.

We will evaluate your request and notify you of our decision.

Letter from NHTSA in response to the Comprehensive Underride Consensus Petition

What will their decision be? The Petition which we sent was signed by fourteen people. Will that be enough to sway their decision? What we need now is many more people to speak up with us and let NHTSA know that this is, in fact, the will of The People.

Please sign this recently-launched online petition to let NHTSA know that you want them to act swiftly to improve regulations which will prevent deadly underride crashes:



NTSB truck crash hearing reflects endless stalemate. Could a Natl Traffic Safety Ombudsman end it?

NTSB Board hears reports on deadly 2015 TN truck crash. October 4 at 9:30 a.m.


Same issues over and over with no resolution. Could a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman work to more effectively end the continuing needless, senseless bloodshed on our highways? Why are we letting people like Mary and AnnaLeah anyway?

Tangled states & federal responsibilities.

1a85etLife & DeathTalkin together Unsafe Trucks

Cost/Benefit Analysis: Or, How to Put a Price Tag on a Person’s Life

Now I better understand why my dad had my mom’s dresser still full of her things in his bedroom when we emptied his house at age 90 — 24 years after she was gone. I cling to the things which are full of memories, full of them. Being a pack rat doesn’t help.

Today I found a moving box labeled by Mary: Mary’s Books, 4/27/13. Exactly one week before our crash on 5/4/2013. She loved to read. When she was little, she loved to be read to. She loved a good story. She loved to laugh.


In what universe, did we decide to put a price on a person’s life and use that to determine whether we should bother to save them — to prevent an unnatural death which would cut short their existence? If it is possible to do something which would give them a chance to live out their earthly life , then why on earth would we decide that it would cost too much? Too much?! For whom?!

Cost/Benefit Analysis: Or, How to Put a Price Tag on a Person’s Life

“The Country’s In the Very Best of Hands”

I have been discouraged lately about the state of affairs in our country related to vehicle violence and more specifically, for a variety of reasons, have been missing AnnaLeah and Mary more than usual. So, when I read the recent email from Lou Lombardo (whom I was privileged to visit with during the Ralph Nader Conference), I was wondering who listens to our Vision Zero message anyway.

But then I clicked on the link at the end and read the words of a song which made me smile, The Country’s In the Very Best of Hands! (L’il Abner). It reminded me of The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band — a Disney movie which Mary and AnnaLeah enjoyed watching:

The Bower Family Band petitions the Democratic National Committee to sing a Grover Cleveland rally song at the 1888 convention, but decide instead to move to the Dakota territory on the urging of a suitor to their eldest daughter. There, Grampa Bower causes trouble with his pro-Cleveland ideas, as Dakota residents are overwhelmingly Republican, and hope to get the territory admitted as two states (North and South Dakota) rather than one in order to send four Republican senators to Washington. Cleveland opposed this plan, refusing to refer to Congress the plan to organize the Dakotas this way. When Cleveland wins the popular vote, but Harrison the presidency due to the electoral college votes, the Dakotans (particularly the feuding young couple) resolve to live together in peace, and Cleveland grants statehood to the two Dakotas before he leaves office (along with two Democrat-voting states, evening the gains for both parties).

Maybe, despite the dismal outlook of highway safety and this election year, there is hope. Perhaps all of our efforts will truly make a difference in this life for someone. And, someday, there will be no more dying, no more tears, no more vulnerable victims — only everlasting joy.

mary-at-john-ball-zoo-garden annaleah-knitting-at-cottage

(Photos: Courtesy of The Karths/Double K Photography)

Dear Care For Crash Victims Community Members:

The Problem

Nader has said:  “This country has far more problems than it deserves and far more solutions than it applies.”

 The U.S.A. continues to face vehicle violence problems resulting in:

 *  100 deaths per day – and rising

*  400 serious injuries per day

*  Losses valued by DOT at about $2 Billion per day

The U.S. has more safety technology available than ever before in history.

 And yet the Obama Administration has failed for nearly 8 years – and nearly 250,000 deaths due to vehicle violence – to set a national Vision Zero Goal.  For example, Volvo has set such a goal for zero deaths in or by a new Volvo by the year 2020.   Why?

Where is the hope and change for the better, that President Obama promised us?


Happy People

My recent article on the DOT NHTSA Revolving Door brought me the attached photo of DOT NHTSA and Auto Company Executives.  Lots of smiles as the Obama Administration comes to a close.

Some in the media have noted the Revolving Door and coziness of regulators and the “regulated”.  See

But not enough people know about the specific problems of vehicle violence and how government has failed to protect them.

Unhappy People

What percentage of the American people think that they can trust their government to do the right thing?

The Pew Poll reports:

The public’s trust in the federal government continues to be at historically low levels. Only 19% of Americans today say they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right “just about always” (3%) or “most of the time” (16%).  See

Reminds me of the lyrics “The country’s in the very best of hands”  See
Lou Lombardo


Life & DeathTSO Petition black

image2 (1)

Ralph Nader Conference Highlights Tort Law Benefits & Tort Reform’s Assault on Right to Day In Court

I just got back from a Ralph Nader Conference (Breaking Through Power) in DC on Tort Law (September 29). I was privileged to participate as a “Tort Victim” on a panel moderated by Harvey Rosenfield (Consumer Watchdog). Other panel members were Susan Vento, Todd Anderson, and Laura Gipe-Christian.


Tort Law or Torts, I learned, is the law of compensation for wrongful inflicted injuries and was in existence long  before it was ever practiced here in our country. And tort law has three purposes:

  1. Compensation
  2. Disclosure
  3. Deterrence (therefore making us safer)

I also found out about the assault on tort law or “tort reform” which has convinced the American public that a system of law had somehow broken and needed to be fixed. This battle for the mind has fostered an attitude of cynicism and skepticism in jurors with the subtle messages about (fill in the blank, answers at the bottom of the post):

  1. Frivolous ________________
  2. Runaway ________________ and
  3. Greedy (or ambulance-chasing) __________________

But actually, the result has been that those who have been wrongfully injured find themselves less compensated and all of us are less safe because it diminishes accountability.

In fact, once a person becomes a victim, tort reform makes them a victim all over again–this time of a system that was meant to help the victim but has been sabotaged to leave them even more vulnerable. And I can give you two examples of this:

  1. During the lunch break, I had the opportunity to speak with a member of the audience who was there because, as a nurse midwife, she was interested in what would be said about medical malpractice. She said that what was being presented made a lot of sense. But she then told me about what she sees as victims of the focus on medical malpractice: pregnant women who are too often forced into C-sections (or other medical procedures not of their choosing) due to fear on the part of doctors of being sued. Yet, this is a case, perhaps, of the kind of PR which was mentioned; we have been led to believe that frivolous lawsuits in this area have skyrocketed and resulted in things getting out of control. Is this so?
  2. The second example is out of my own experience. One of the presenters mentioned that too often victims cannot find trial lawyers who are willing to take their case — on a contingency basis — due to the risk of not being able to recover their costs and the concern about whether the case will be successful or be limited by caps on compensation. We have tried multiple times to get someone to take our case without success. By this time, statutes of limitations pose an additional barrier. The end result is just like I was told this week: compensation to victims is barred; disclosure is prevented; and deterrence of future actions is limited. In our case, tort reform, thereby, could have contributed to a situation which allows ongoing opposition and resistance by the industry and regulators to doing whatever it would take to end Preventable Death by Truck Underride. On May 4, 2013, I hit Double Jeopardy! A victim twice over. What will it take to break through this travesty?

Folks, this is a problem. Could it be that tort reform is just one more of the culprits that bear the responsibility for the circumstances that led to my daughters’ deaths in a truck underride crash? If the many layers of leadership in the trucking industry, government regulation, and law enforcement had been held more accountable and liable in the past, might there have been a greater likelihood that AnnaLeah and Mary would still be alive today?

I’ll probably never know for sure. But I can venture a calculated guess. And I can do whatever is within my power to make sure that things get better for someone else.

Here’s to the realization of my dream of a nationwide network of mobilized traffic safety community advocacy groups to educate and empower citizens to take back their right to a day in court as one more strategy to help us realize the vision of moving toward zero preventable deaths and serious injuries from vehicle violence.


(And just in case you need the answers to the quiz: lawsuits, verdicts, and lawyers.)



CBA Victim Cost Benefit Analysis Victim

2 crash deathsCar Safety Wars

If only

Instead of like this:

IMG_4465Underride Roundtable May 5, 2016 033 Underride Roundtable May 5, 2016 032

Truck Underride Timeline by IIHS at the Underride Roundtable, May 5, 2016

As always, I am after the truth of the matter and I hope that you are, as well.


VBS craft by Mary in Michigan, Summer of 2007